Fellowship

Teach to Lead: Denver

In early January 2015, Kalpana Kumar-Sharma of Brightwood Education Campus in Washington, DC represented Leading Educators at the second Teach to Lead Summit of the season in Denver, CO. Through her project, Kalpana is creating a team of ‘Health Ambassadors’ that will work to deploy quick health strategies for everyday use across the school.

Kalpana is an early childhood teacher focused on holistic health in her own school and across the nation. As a participant in both the DC Leading Educators Fellowship and the District of Columbia Public Schools Teacher Leadership Innovation (TLI) pilot, Kalpana is well-versed in the power of teacher leadership to affect school-wide change. She is currently training 12 school-based staff (ranging from classroom teachers to social workers and school counselors to physical education teachers) in stress management, deep breathing, and meditative exercises that can be quickly deployed for greater community health. Kalpana has gotten the staff to sign on to dedicating the first 5 minutes of all school meetings to these well-being strategies.

Kalpana says, “Health often gets forgotten in the pursuit of greater student achievement gains. Holistic health – social, emotional, and physical – however, is an integral component of promoting long-term success inside and outside the classroom.” After submitting her idea for the Summit through the Commit to Lead platform, Kalpana and her colleagues, Assistant Principal Justin Ralston and 2nd grade teacher Rachel Rosenberg, attended the Summit in Denver to present and workshop their idea.

While the attitude is often “I don’t have time”, the Health Ambassador Project works to implement small, mindful exercises that promote “a healthier, happier, and more productive school culture”, says Kalpana. At the Teach to Lead Summit, she was able to share her unique idea with other teachers from around the nation. She said creating a 7 minute pitch as well as 30, 60, and 90 day plans was hugely beneficial to selling and implementing her project back in DC. “It was an amazing experience. While I already had some strategies, thanks to Leading Educators, I got tons of helpful feedback from other participants that will strengthen my project. I recognize that I now have a platform [Teach to Lead] to raise my voice and spread awareness.” When describing the experience, Kalpana reminisces about, “getting lost for hours in planning and research with crucial friends who really believe in and support the work.”

Kalpana (left) photographed with her colleagues Rachel and Justin at the Teach to Lead summit in Denver in early January 2015.

Now that she has returned from the Summit, Kalpana is excited to roll up her sleeves and begin large-scale implementation. While her health ambassador team is entirely composed of Brightwood staff at this time, the vision is to eventually engage parents and students as well. And while Kalpana would like to see the program succeed at her own school first, she is starting to devise plans to expand the sphere of influence across the district. She noted that after conducting a yoga session at Seaton Elementary School last semester, she already has their leadership signed on as a potential expansion school. Her whole team is very excited about spreading this work and has begun to identify grant opportunities and secure speakers to expand the scope and level of prestige surrounding the project. We look forward to seeing the results.

District of Columbia Public Schools: Excellence in Teaching Awards

As 2014 drew to a close, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has released the names of their annual award winners and it has clearly been a great year for Leading Educators’ Teacher Leaders.

DCPS notes the Excellence in Teaching Award as one that, “recognizes the outstanding achievement and dedication of seven DCPS teachers with a $10,000 prize”. Educators from across the district were nominated for the award and a panel of community stakeholders selected the final list of winners. Our Washington, D.C., Leading Educators team was very excited to see that one of their 2013 cohort Fellows, Charisse Robinson, was awarded one of the prestigious awards!

The Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teachers recognizes the success of additional DCPS teachers. “The awards are funded through the generosity of David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.” 2013 cohort Fellows, Jamila Marston (Elementary Math & Science, Truesdell Education Campus) and Frank Medley (Spanish, Whittier Education Campus), were both recipients of the 2014 Rubenstein Award.

DCPS also announces Principal of the Year and Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders at the end of each calendar year. Chancellor Kaya Henderson surprised Principal Janeece Docal of Powell Elementary School with the Principal of the Year award in late November. Chancellor Henderson said, “When I think about the qualities that make a phenomenal principal, and the qualities that I want in a school leader, both as a parent and as a Chancellor, I think of Janeece Docal. She holds incredibly high expectations for her students, [and] has built a team of people who deliver on those expectations every day”. We couldn’t agree more! Janeece sponsors both Washington, D.C., Leading Educators Fellows as well as DCPS Teacher Leadership Innovation (TLI) Teacher Leaders in her building and is deploying their leadership expertise to drive results across the building. Leading Educators partner schools, Whittier Education Campus, Truesdell Education Campus, and Seaton Elementary School, were also acknowledged for the outstanding leaders driving student achievement through the Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders. Congratulations to Tenia Pritchard (Whittier), Loren Brody (Whittier), Mary Ann Stinson (Truesdell), Cynthia Robinson-Rivers (Seaton), and Kim Jackson (Seaton).

The announcement of Teacher of the Year did not occur until late in December, but it was well worth the wait. DC 2013 cohort member, Charisse Robinson, was named 2014 Teacher of the Year. Charisse has always loved learning and working with children – even as a child herself. Despite spending many years struggling to pass the teacher certification exam, Charisse was not willing to give up on her students and their growth. The classroom was where she was meant to be, so she began working with a colleague after school, prior to her last chance at the exam, to ensure she was able to honor her commitment to her students. Now, 15 years into her teacher career, the Cleveland community is happy that Charisse was able to receive her certification and continue on her path of impactful and holistic educating. Last year, 95% of Charisse’s 3rd graders met or exceeded grade level standards in reading, even though a fourth of her class started the year significantly behind. Her leadership coach, Lori Wilen, says: “Charisse is an absolute pleasure to work with. She is a reflective practitioner and is willing to be open and honest about her own work. She is dedicated to her students and the work of urban education in general. Her passion is contagious and all who enter her presence are fortunate”.

All award winners were honored at the 5th Annual Standing Ovation for DC Teachers at the Kennedy Center on January 12th, 2015.

 

DC Fellow Presents Teacher Leadership Project at National Summit

In December, Adrianna Riccio, a 2nd year DC Fellow, took her commitment to her teacher leadership one step further by winning a spot at Teach to Lead’s Louisville, KY Summit for teacher leaders. The Summit was one of three events hosted by the Department of Education under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s initiative to support and grow teacher leadership across the country. Adrianna was chosen to attend after submitting her idea for a teacher leadership project to Teach to Lead via their Commit to Lead platform.

Adrianna’s idea was based on her own work. She has been working on a comprehensive coaching program in her school to best employ the expertise of veteran teachers in her building to provide guidance and support to those in their first three years on the job. Since Fairfax County Public Schools already provides coaches for first year teachers, Adrianna’s coaching program is centered on leveraging 8 highly effective teachers at Glasgow as instructional coaches for second and third year teachers.

Adrianna said, “In this program, each teacher in their 2nd and 3rd year will receive an instructional coach that will meet with them once per month to help them perfect their teaching craft. These meetings will be non-evaluative and will use a variety of coaching methods. The coaching team will help with disseminating data and holding data dialogues as well as address any classroom issues that may arise. Most importantly, these teacher leaders will be seen as a resource for all teachers in the building.”

Adrianna stands at the front of the Kentucky Regional Summit (wearing a grey cardigan and glasses). Image courtesy of Teach to Lead

Overall, Adrianna is trying to cultivate a collaborative space for the teachers at Glasgow to share best practices in a meaningful way that both empowers educators to lead as well as learn from their peers. Some other elements they may incorporate include peer observations, TeachMeets (mini conferences held by teachers for teachers), and professional development opportunities.

Not only did Adrianna and her school team qualify for the Louisville Summit with this idea, but their interpretation of what teacher leadership could look like in their school proved to be very popular. Adrianna describes the Summit as a great generative space to collaborate and innovate with like-minded and driven educators from across the country. It was a huge growth opportunity and we hope many more of our teacher leaders get to experience it.

Press Release: DUNCAN RECOGNIZES TEACHER LEADER IMPACT ON STUDENT SUCCESS

U.S. Secretary of Education Hosts Roundtable with Members of New Orleans Teacher Leader Program

NEW ORLEANS – December 9, 2014 – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will meet with Leading Educators Fellows at Arthur Ashe Charter School to hear from teacher leaders about what it takes to be successful and what further support schools, states, and the Department of Education can offer. As part of the Secretary’s Teach to Lead initiative to promote teacher leadership, Duncan will share a roundtable with five Leading Educators Teacher Leader Fellows and their principals, two of whom are alumni of the New Leaders program, in New Orleans Thursday afternoon. A parent from each school will sit in on the discussion.

“Strong school leadership has been crucial to the progress seen in New Orleans schools. I applaud organizations like Leading Educators and New Leaders that prepare teachers and principals to do this incredibly challenging – but critical – work,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Great school leadership makes great teaching possible and helps ensure that every student graduates prepared for college, careers and life.”

Secretary Duncan will ask the roundtable participants to share stories of success and challenge in working to support and develop both their students and their colleagues. Teacher leaders and their principals, several of whom are alumni of the Leading Educators Fellowship, will join the roundtable from Arthur Ashe Charter School, ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Academy, Samuel Green Charter School, New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, and KIPP Believe College Prep.

“Secretary Duncan’s visit signifies the administration’s commitment to understanding experiences of teacher leaders and the impact of a national movement of educators who seek to support and develop their students and their colleagues,” said Chief Executive Officer Jonas Chartock.

Leading Educators is an official partner of the national Teach to Lead initiative, which seeks to expand opportunities for teacher leadership. The organization has been working with teacher leaders in New Orleans since 2008 and remains headquartered in the city.

“It’s only fitting that Secretary Duncan is looking to New Orleans for examples of model teacher leadership – teacher leaders are a significant force in the improvement of the city’s schools,” said Greater New Orleans Executive Director Julie Bourgeois. “Our teacher leaders have led initiatives that have had a real impact on student learning and school culture.”


Leading Educators works to advance teachers’ leadership skills and opportunities, building a national movement to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed in school and life.

Teach to Lead is an initiative jointly convened by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership, particularly those that allow teachers to stay in the classroom.

Press Release: ROADMAP FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHER LEADERSHIP RELEASED BY ASPEN INSTITUTE AND LEADING EDUCATORS

Paper Shows Districts how to Design Programs for Impact


Detroit, MI, October 20, 2014 – As school districts across the country confront the challenges of recruiting and retaining great teachers while trying to close persistent opportunity gaps, two prominent nonprofit organizations today released a blueprint for building effective teacher leadership programs. The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program and Leading Educators, which partners with school districts to accelerate the impact of teachers in leadership positions, unveiled Leading from the Front of the Classroom: A Roadmap for Teacher Leadership that Works at the Education Writers Association seminar in Detroit Monday.

The paper provides school districts with concrete strategies for maximizing the potential of highly effective teachers to influence their colleagues, shift school culture and advance teaching, learning, and student achievement. The good news is that school districts across America increasingly are investing in the development of new career pathways for their best teachers as a reward and retention strategy. Unfortunately, they often do so without regard for the impact they want these teachers to have or how this can reinforce and strengthen other reforms. As a result, these initiatives have yet to stem attrition or improve achievement in any consistent or widespread fashion.

“I’ve heard from so many teachers who are tired of the heartbreaking choice between serving their students and serving their profession. Teacher leadership must be a force for changing education—not a result of it,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

Leading Educators Founder and CEO Jonas Chartock said, “What principal hasn’t wished she could harness the talent of her best teachers and spread it to every classroom in her school? We know from our own experience this is possible and with this paper, Leading Educators hopes to point districts in the direction of creating high-impact leadership programs that address their many challenges around talent retention, achievement, and administrator burnout. In the areas where Leading Educators works directly with schools on developing these types of programs, we have seen higher teacher satisfaction and more collaborative, less stressful learning environments.”

Aspen Institute Vice President Ross Wiener said, “Done right, teacher leadership elevates the profession while advancing other reforms. For example, it’s overwhelming for principals alone to give every teacher the feedback and guidance they need and deserve – and it’s not how any other profession is structured. Teacher leadership leverages talent within the teaching corps, makes the job more attractive to ambitious and accomplished teachers – and can make education reform more sustainable at the same time.” 

The paper cites several examples of effective teacher leadership initiatives at the state, school district, and school levels, including programs in Tennessee, Chicago, the District of Columbia, and Denver, among others. Standalone profiles also were released today of teacher leaders as Common Core coaches in Tennessee, team leaders in Denver Public Schools, and school-culture leads in the Noble Street Network of charter schools in Chicago.

These approaches share common attributes that have the potential to improve retention and student achievement:

They are designed for impact: This means aligning teacher leadership programs with key school priorities rather than just using leadership as an opportunity to recognize successful educators.

They know their context: Successful teacher leadership is predicated on having strong and well-defined systems in place to identify effective educators. School communities must have trust and confidence in their teacher leaders and not question the process by which they achieved their elevated position within a school.

They have defined measures of success: It is critical that districts and schools build a broad understanding of the long term and leading indicators of success. Vision must be clear and well-communicated.

They are built strategically: Effective teacher leadership programs cannot be a burden on principals or other educators, but must actually redistribute some responsibility in ways that make the principal job more manageable. Schools must commit to designing roles that make sense for their communities, train teachers in the management skills they need to be successful leaders, and recognize these leaders for their impact.

"By investing in the creation of a thoughtful teacher leadership program we've seen our schools in a position to hold all students to high expectations,” said Michael Milkie, Superintendent of Noble Network of Charter Schools. “This paper captures a critical piece of our success and hope it serves as a model for other school organizations and districts looking to maximize the impact of the talent in their classrooms."

Leading Educators and the Aspen Institute officially unveiled the paper during a panel discussion at the Education Writers Association’s Detroit seminar on teaching entitled The Push to Upgrade the Teaching Profession: What Reporters Need to Know. The full report can be seen at http://www.leadingeducators.org/publications.


ABOUT LEADING EDUCATORS

Leading Educators is a national nonprofit organization based in New Orleans that seeks to improve student achievement by accelerating the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools. We partner with states, districts, schools and individual educators to design leadership opportunities and develop the management skills of teachers so they can lead their peers to better student outcomes. For more information, visit www.leadingeducators.org.  

ABOUT THE ASPEN INSTITUTE EDUCATION AND SOCIETY PROGRAM

The Education and Society Program improves public education by inspiring, informing, and influencing education leaders across policy and practice, with an emphasis on achieving equity for traditionally underserved students. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/education 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jon Reinish

SKDKnickerbocker

202-999-0461

JReinish@SKDKnick.com

 

Katrin Thomas

The Aspen Institute

202-736-5857

Katrin.Thomas@aspeninst.org

Press Release: LEADING EDUCATORS AND D.C. PUBLIC SCHOOLS EXPAND PARTNERSHIP TO DEVELOP LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR GREAT TEACHERS

Work with 21 D.C. Schools Aims to Retain Effective Educators and Drive School Wide Achievement Gains

July 9, 2014 (Washington DC)—Principals and teachers from 17 D.C. public schools are gathering this week to identify challenges they want to tackle in the coming school year and the leadership roles teachers can play in driving this positive change. The effort is being facilitated by Leading Educators, a nonprofit organization that partners with districts to identify leadership opportunities for teachers and train them in the management skills necessary to be successful. This year, Leading Educators is working with 21 DCPS schools up from seven in 2013-14.

During this week’s kick-off, principals and teachers will outline their work for the coming school year, set goals and assign responsibilities for teachers. The effort gives teachers the chance to take on larger roles within their schools while remaining in the classroom working with their students. Some of the challenges they may take on are leading intervention programs for students who are behind their grade level, creating model classrooms where teachers can observe effective instructional practices, and developing strategies for lowering suspension rates, among others. 

“D.C. public schools are at the forefront of teacher leadership development and understand the power of great educators to lead their peers to better student outcomes,” said Jonas Chartock, CEO of Leading Educators. “Through our work with these 21 schools, we are helping them identify the right roles for these teachers and developing the skills all successful leaders need. Our early results in D.C. show that this work has the potential to dramatically improve the retention rates of excellent teachers and increase student achievement across the board. We’re very excited about what we’re seeing here.”

In its first year partnering with DCPS, Leading Educators worked with seven schools. By the end of the year, one school noticed a significant decrease in office referrals after creating a Special Education Department; another school that started a blending learning program has received a grant to expand the work so that each student will have access to technology throughout the day; another school improved continuity of curriculum to ensure that each grade appropriately builds on the previous one. Several schools overhauled the way they use data by utilizing data coaches and weekly review cycles to closely monitor when students are growing or struggling.

Partner schools for 2014-15 are:

  • Stanton ES*
  • Wheatley EC*
  • Tyler ES*
  • CW Harris*
  • Janney ES*
  • Ballou SHS
  • Beers ES
  • Brightwood EC
  • Cardozo EC
  • CHEC HS
  • Eastern SHS
  • Garrison ES
  • Jefferson MS
  • Ketcham ES
  • Langley ES
  • McKinley Technology SHS
  • Powell ES
  • Seaton ES
  • Tubman ES
  • Truesdell EC
  • Eliot-Hine MS

*Leading Educators Partner in 2013-14

For more information about Leading Educators, visit leadingeducators.org.


Leading Educators is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve student achievement by accelerating the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools. We partner with districts, schools and individual educators to develop their management skills so they can lead their peers to better student outcomes. In doing so, we help retain our best educators, refresh the talent pipeline and improve outcomes from the classroom.